The United States and the People’s Republic of China agreed to increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas and student and exchange visas issued to citizens of each country. Effective November 12, 2014, Chinese nationals can now obtain B-1 (business) and B-2 (tourist) nonimmigrant multiple-entry visas for up to 10 years. Previously, these visas were issued with a validity of only one year. Qualified Chinese students and exchange visitors, along with their dependents, will now be eligible for F, M, or J-category multiple-entry visas valid for up to five years (previously one year) or the length of their program.
To reciprocate, the People’s Republic of China will now issue, to qualified US citizens, short term business and tourist visas (L and M visas) for multiple-entry with validity up to 10 years. Qualified US students may receive student residency permits (F visa) valid up to five years, depending on the length of their educational program.
On a related note and in response to international security concerns, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced, effective immediately, those traveling to the US through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) will be required to provide additional information when registering for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Travelers from the 38 VWP countries, where a visa is not required for entry up to 90 days, must now provide additional passport data, contact information, city of birth, employment data, and other names or aliases. These new requirements will not impact those with current ESTA approvals which are typically granted for a two-year period or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever is sooner. Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program include Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other European countries as well as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea.